Characters and Setting in The Fall of the House of Usher
The primary objective in “The Fall of the House of Usher” is to give the reader a sense of horror. Through the creation of elaborate imagery and dreary circumstances Poe conveys a story that elicits in the reader the dark feelings he has hoped for. In this analysis I will focus on Poe’s characters and setting, and how he structures them to produce the overall effect.
The story begins with a description of our narrator’s first impressions of the House of Usher. He has been summoned there so that he might provide comfort to his boyhood friend. The particular friend, Roderick Usher, is an eccentric character which the narrator has not seen in quite some time. The reason for his visit is so that he, Usher’s only friend, may provide some companionship which will ease Usher’s lonely, disturbed mind. The setting for this story takes place in what is known as the House of Usher. The house is reminiscent of a sovereign insane asylum. The family who has lived in the house for many years is described by Poe as having a stem with no branches (p.665). The occurrences which have taken place throughout the years of this family’s incessant and peculiar behavior give the house a life of its own which tells an eerie story. In the particular passage we have chosen the narrator describes the effect upon seeing the house: “It was a mystery all insoluble.”(p.654) The mysteriousness surrounding the house gives it a sense of darkness. The term “mystery” also serves to tap into the reader’s curiosity. This quality is important to the overall effect of Poe’s story. By leaving the effect of the house as something somewhat unknown he lures the reader to join the narrator in a discovery which can better explain, or simply provide the reader a better feel for what exactly goes on in the House of Usher.
The manner in which Poe uses the narrator to draw the reader in to the happenings at the House of Usher is important to the story. Throughout, the only reference to him is “I”. Poe most likely used this technique to allow the reader to place hisself or herself in the story more easily. The narrator’s personality also plays a role in this effect of drawing in the reader. Though both the house and Roderick Usher are things people would typically stay away from, the narrator seems to be intrigued by the whole situation. Throughout the passage he speaks of the wretched conditions and utterly dismal appearance of the house. Nonetheless, he decides to enter this house with a known lunatic who he has not seen in years. This parallels the emotions of the reader which Poe hopes to play on throughout his story. Those are the emotions of a morbid curiosity. Poe taps into this desire by creating a character which possesses the same morbid curiosity...